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DBweekly Getting back to the basics By Bill Baker Dairymen typically look at milking machine performance when there’s an issue, when in reality udder preparation plays more of a key role in milking. That’s according to Dr. David Reid, head of Rocky Ridge Dairy Consulting. “The key factors really are the number of bacteria on teats when units are attached,” he said. “We know that if udder preparation is done 100 percent properly at all times, we’re still not going to kill all of the bacteria on the teat.” Poor teat condition can result in low milk flow. Hyperkeratosis or the excessive tissue that develops on the end of the teat from irritation has a great impact on milking duration. To alleviate the problem, Reid suggests spending more time preparing the udder for milking. “It’s pretty basic,” he said. “Ten to twelve seconds of contact time on the teats. That’s rubbing, stripping or drying followed by attaching the units for 90 seconds or longer from when the teats were first touched.” He said if dairymen follow this rule, they could minimize the low flow at the front end of milking. “All in all we are trying to shorten the amount of time the unit is on the cow, and we want to have the highest flow possible while the unit is attached to the cow.” Over-milking can also be a challenge if the udder prep is not up to standard. When visiting various dairies, Dr. Reid has seen very low flow or no flow at the beginning of milking and then the cow actually lets her milk down. On the other hand, “We actually have units staying on too long and I think dairymen believe that you have to get the last drop of milk out of the cow or else she will get mastitis, which really isn’t true,” he said. Milk yield is not going to be impacted even if 8 Bill Baker | DairyBusiness Radio there’s between 100 to 250 milliliters of milk left immediately after the unit comes off. In fact, adjustments to the detach unit often makes the cow more relaxed and they stand better in the parlor or the barn. The rules are pretty standard, as it’s all about the physiology of the cow. Dr. Reid emphasized that it’s about getting back to the basics, and time considerations are important in udder preparation. Operations are going to vary depending on the size of the parlor, the number of working technicians and the dairy operations routines and procedures. Frequent observation in the barn is necessary to ensure there are minimal cows with no milk flow at the front end of milking. DairyBusiness Radio Podcasts: Feed Facts with Dr. Mike Hutjens Alternate Forage Resources NMPF Update with Chris Galen Name the Real Seal Character MPC Update with Rob Vandenheuvel California Looking at FMMO Cattlemen’s Beef Board Update Reaching The Next Generation of Beef Eaters Dairy Industry is a Model for Sustainability Tom Gallagher, DMI